8 September 2021
After our 2021 She Leads Conference, we asked a select group of women the question of how attending the event has enriched their lives. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing their answers and insights with you. Here is what Margaret Hinder had to say.
It was a privilege attending the YWCA Canberra She Leads Conference.
After spending a day hearing from Australian women working to change our world for the better, I felt almost giddy. All day, I heard women from all walks of life talk about the challenges facing them, but more importantly, how they were overcoming those challenges with dignity, grace and humour.
As a mother returning to the workforce in a part-time role, I had begun to think I was in the doldrums of life: a period of quiet competence and learning, until I had finished having children and they were old enough for me to take on new challenges. My first YWCA Canberra event earlier this year, the She Leads Board governance workshop, made me cast aside that belief. The She Leads Conference gave me an amazing opportunity to meet women and think about what my new challenge should be. To consider adding more to my overfull life is scary, but I’m going to take Senator Mehreen Faruqi’s advice: to feel the fear and do it anyway.
A key theme throughout the conference I’m taking into my everyday life is the importance of supporting each other. Many speakers talked about the importance of calling out unacceptable behaviour in all its forms, and doing it early. As someone who became an adult as social media developed, I have always felt arguing with others online is a waste of time. Our keynote speaker Senator Dr Mehreen Faruki showed me that I should make an important exception to this. She shared her experiences of racism and misogyny online as an Australian Senator. I realised there is a difference between arguing with a troll and defending a person. So I have resolved that whenever I saw personal attacks online, I would speak against it.
Which I think leads to the second great lesson of the conference. The theme was Power and it was clear to me that one of the great virtues of successful women is their acknowledgment of all the people who contribute to their success. This to me was a display of an authentic, feminine power, confident enough in itself to acknowledge the contributions of others thematically, not just as prelude or conclusion to an otherwise egocentric presentation.
All day we heard women talk about amazing achievements and reiterate that they didn’t do it alone. Amy Thunig demonstrated in her profoundly honest and authentic account of her own life, that ultimately her success came from small acts of kindness received daily, that made her feel seen and valued. Which is something we can all do, even if we slip back into the doldrums.
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